Nov 15, 2008

Synod’s Relator General

Online Edition:
November 2008
Vol. XIV, No. 8

Synod’s Relator General
Summarizes Interventions for Final Phase:
Questions Focus on Critical Issues in Conveying Word of God to Church, World

Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec, the relator-general of the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God, summarized more than 200 interventions of the speeches presented in his summary given October 15, midway through the synod. He also offered synod members 19 questions as a starting point for their small-group discussions.

Called the Relatio post disceptationem (the lecture following the discussion), Cardinal Ouellet’s 70-minute presentation to the synod was delivered entirely in Latin. It formed the basis of the discussions of the circoli minores (small groups, representing various languages) that would begin the following day and continue through the synod.

These small groups draft proposals to present to Pope Benedict XVI as the basis of the document he is expected to write after the synod.

Among the questions Cardinal Ouellet posed in his Relatio, as reported by Catholic News Service, were:

1. How can the Church educate people to listen to the Word of God?

2. How can the Church promote “lectio divina”, the prayerful reading of the Bible?

3. Would it be helpful to have a compendium or other practical manual to help priests and deacons write and present their homilies?

4. Is there a need to revise the selection of readings for the Lectionary for Mass?

5. What can the Church do to better emphasize the connection between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist?

6. What should the Church do to improve the translation and distribution of Bibles, especially for the poor?

7. What can be done to help people understand that reading and interpreting the Bible must take into account the literal meaning of the text, the spiritual meaning of the text and the traditional teaching of the Church?

8. Should the Church sponsor a world congress on the Word of God?

9. What steps can be taken to ensure that the Scriptures become a more important part of the search for Christian unity and the Church’s dialogue with the Jewish people?

10. What should the Church and its members do to ensure that a biblical spirit animates all its pastoral efforts?

11. How can the church reconcile the practice of interreligious dialogue with the dogmatic affirmation that Christ is the one savior of humanity?

12. How can art, poetry, the internet and other media be used to cultivate greater knowledge of the Word of God?

In his summary, Cardinal Ouellet said it was right that many synod members emphasized the importance of interpreting the Scriptures in communion with the Church and its tradition, and that the Word of God is a living Word and the Church must be attentive to new emphases and responses to new challenges that the Holy Spirit may inspire.

Several synod fathers spoke of the difficulty caused when biblical scholars who regard the text primarily as literature disagree with theologians who read the Bible as inspired, according to Church teaching. (This conflict was expressly addressed by Pope Benedict at the synod. See his intervention above.)

Cardinal Ouellet said the bishops’ discussion highlighted the need for reading the text “from within the vision of faith. It is not only to go beyond the letter (of the text), but to see it as a sign that the revealed Word wants to be heard”.

“It appears clear to the synod fathers that the determining factor in the interpretation of the biblical text is the experience of encountering Christ present in the tradition of the Church”, Cardinal Ouellet said. “This encounter transmits the strength of love that comes from faith”.

Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, the Vatican’s English-language press attaché at the synod, commented on Cardinal Ouellet’s summary: “He had already delivered the opening talk of the synod in Latin last Monday, in which he outlined the major themes and directions of the present synod…. Most people would need a month to process everything we have heard over the past ten days in the synod hall.… Quebec’s cardinal and his team worked nonstop for the past two days in pulling together much of the data of over 200 synodal interventions”.

“The result was a masterful, thoughtful, comprehensive presentation that begins the next phase of the synod and the formulation of the propositions that are presented to the pope next week [and] are subsequently used as the foundation for the post-synodal apostolic exhortation”, Father Rosica said.

— Compiled from various sources



The Editors